Norfolk’s 90 miles of coastline are as diverse as they come, from fabulous family-friendly seaside resorts to tidal salt marshes via soaring cliffs and enormous beaches where you can find quaint pubs, boutique hotels and charming self-catering accommodation to stay as well as camping and lodges. Perfect for short breaks and holidays.
The top beach resort on the east coast, Gt Yarmouth has it all. Along 15 miles of pristine beaches, you’ll find smaller communities like Gorleston-on-Sea, Hemsby and Caister, but it’s Great Yarmouth that’s the star attraction, with the Golden Mile of amusements, rides and attractions including the Pleasure Beach and Hippodrome Circus. To the northern end of the beach are the refurbished Venetian Waterways.
The resort has all sorts of accommodation, including B&Bs and guesthouses, family-run hotels and holiday parks.
With its impressive Victorian Pier, and the world’s last end of pier theatre, Cromer is a charming seaside town. Famous for its eponymous crab, the town doesn’t have a harbour so the fishing boats are hauled up on to the shingle by the cobblestoned Gangway.
Above the family-friendly beach, you can explore the town’s tight streets, the church of St Peter and St Paul with its wonderful stained glass and 160ft tower (the tallest in Norfolk), and the Cromer Museum where you can learn about the town’s fishing, trading and seaside history – or just simply enjoy the peaceful mini-parks and gardens.
Just a few miles west from Cromer, Sheringham is a smaller seaside town, tucked under the shadow of the 200ft high Beeston Bump. Sheringham has an easy-going charm and The Mo, an enjoyable museum on the seafront.
To the east of Cromer are Overstrand and Mundesley.
The classic seaside resort of Hunstanton has a large, award-winning, sandy beach with safe, shallow water that provides a vast playground, alongside all the traditional attractions of a great family resort. Here you’ll find some of the best conditions in the country for windsurfing, as well as kite-surfing, land boarding, sailing and water skiing.
Hunstanton’s stunning striped cliffs of Carr stone and red and white chalk rise above the sea to the north of the town. At Old Hunstanton, the original fishing village before the Victorians came by railway, the vast beach provides miles of space to relax and unwind.
As the only west-facing resort on the east coast of Britain, Hunstanton basks in sunshine long into the evening and visitors can enjoy spectacular sunsets from the promenade.
Nearby is Searles Leisure Resort and there are a number of hotels and guest houses.
Wells-next-the-Sea, now about a mile from the sea, was one of the great Tudor ports, having significant trade with the Netherlands. The harbour is still used by sailing boats and crabbers and the quay and narrow streets are a pleasing mix of shops with a friendly welcome for visitors. From the quay is a long road and pedestrian path to a car park and huge beach.
Pinewoods Holiday Park is right next to the beach, and the town has lovely pubs with rooms, guesthouses, boutique hotels and self-catering accommodation.
Away from the resorts and towns
There’s another more laidback side to the coast, with characterful ports such as Brancaster Staithe, Burnham Overy Staithe, Thornham and Blakeney, from where you can take boat trips to see the seal colony on Blakeney Spit. Cley-next-the-Sea, Salthouse, Stiffkey and Burnham Market are set back from the sea, but all are picturesque places to stay.
These all sit within the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with lovely country pubs with rooms, boutique hotels and a huge range of self-catering accommodation.
On the east coast there are charming villages and hamlets such as Winterton-on-Sea, Sea Palling, Happisburgh, Waxham and Horsey, all with quiet stretches of beach.